LGBTQ Center kicks off sixth annual Love is Love campaign
Popularity explodes, custom T-shirts promote equality, raise awareness
The University’s LGBTQ Center kicked off its annual “Love is Love” campaign this week. The campaign aims to raise awareness and create a more welcoming environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning students.
The Center is distributing red T-shirts bearing the phrase “Love is Love” and encouraging students and faculty to wear the shirts on Friday for Valentine’s Day.
This year marks the sixth anniversary of the campaign. Scott Rheinheimer, coordinator of LGBTQ Student Services, began his position just more than a year ago, and has since seen the project gain substantial popularity.
“I had only been on Grounds two weeks last year when the campaign started,” Rheinheimer said. “I was really nervous that no one would know about this campaign.”
Last year, 600 “Love is Love” shirts were given out in just one day.
“This year we expanded the shirts from 600 to 1,000,” he said. “We also offered larger sizes; this way everyone can show their love.”
Students are broadly supportive of the campaign.
“I think the T-shirts send a good message,” third-year Architecture student Brett Rappaport said. “It’s a powerful but simple message.”
Fourth-year College student Chanel Cooper said the campaign is an important way for allies to express their support for LGBTQ communities.
“I always wear [the shirt] every year,” she said. “There are always going to be those groups that try to ‘other’ people … but overall, I’d say the University is an accepting environment.”
The campaign aims to foster an overall appreciation of the University’s LGBTQ communities and advocate for support at an institutional level.
“U.Va. has definitely come a long way from where it comes from in the past,” Rheinheimer said. “It’s a huge improvement, but we still have a long way to go.”
Among the institutional improvements that Rheinheimer has campaigned for is an online list of gender-neutral bathrooms around Grounds that students can access.
“Our leadership at the University is one of the most supportive,” Rheinheimer said. “They are doing everything they can to make sure people are accepting.”
Shirts are available to all students for free at the LGBTQ Center in Newcomb Hall’s basement from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. throughout this week. Students picking up a shirt are asked to wear them on Friday, and are also invited to join other members of the community for a photo Friday at 4 p.m. on the South Lawn side of the Rotunda.